His duties would be similar to those described in the following letter from a clergyman in one of the colonies, though more general in their extent:—’My own duties are pretty much those you would suppose. I visit the emigrant ships immediately on their coming into port, and am often on board before they drop anchor. I then inquire for the members of the Church of England, and for such others as may require the services of a Church of England clergyman; and having assembled them together, inquire as to the occurrences on the voyage, whether they have had schools, and a regular Sunday or daily service, whether there are children to be baptized, and a thousand other matters of a like nature, which it would be but tiring you to detail. We then appoint an hour for holding a thanksgiving service for their preservation from the perils of the sea, and their safe arrival in the colony. This service consists in the proper service for the day, with a short sermon suited to the occasion.’
Roll on, thou
deep and dark blue ocean—roll!
Ten thousand fleets sweep over thee in vain;
Man marks the earth, with ruin—his control
Stops with the shore;—upon the watery plain
The wrecks are all thy deed, nor doth remain
A shadow of man’s ravage, save his own,
When, for a moment, like a drop of rain,
He sinks into thy depths with bubbling groan,
Without a grave, unknell’d, uncoffin’d, and unknown.
Byron’s Childe Harold.
In the Preface to this work it has been stated that it is not our intention to give a detailed account of every wreck that has happened in the Royal Navy from the year 1793, to the present time, but only of a few of those which appear to be most interesting. We therefore pass over the first two years, giving only a catalogue of the wrecks that occurred during that time; because the calamities that befel the British Navy in 1793 and 1794 were but slight in comparison with those of a later date. The first loss that we have to record is that of the Boyne, of 98 guns, bearing the flag of Vice-Admiral Peyton, and commanded by Captain George Grey. This ship took fire as she lay at anchor at Spithead, on the 1st of May, 1795.
The origin of the fire has never been correctly ascertained; but it is supposed that some of the lighted paper from the cartridges of the marines, as they were exercising and firing on the windward side of the poop, flew through the quarter gallery into the admiral’s cabin, and set fire to the papers or other inflammable materials that were lying there. Be this as it may, the flames burst through the poop before the fire was discovered, and, notwithstanding the united efforts of both officers and men, they soon wrapt the vessel in a blaze fore and aft.
Upon the discovery of the fire, all the boats from the different ships put out to the Boyne’s assistance, and the crew, with the exception of eleven, were saved.